The TailorsLast Stand by Ian Buckley at Barons Court Theatre
As they hold the final meeting of the National Union of Tailors and Garment Workers, four old communists say 'we did our best'.
The sandwiches are unpacked from the Tupperware boxes, the tea is made - the whisky comes later - and the lovingly embroidered banner of the union is hung on the wall for the last time.
These telling details of the everyday business of politics provide the densely realistic setting for Ian Buckley’s play.
This gentle comedy is shot through with the bitter-sweet realisation that their fight has ended.
Although very much a political piece, it is also an elegy to old friendships, shimmering dreams and lost loves.
The play reaches its climax as Max, played by Edward Dehn, and Tom, played by Richard Ward, square up to blame each other for the death of Rose who they both loved 60 years ago.
She seems to be the idealistic focus of their communism.
This strong woman's passion took her to the Soviet Union but died tragically for her beliefs at the beginning of the second world war.
The extreme emotion flares up and then it is gone.
Director Harry Saks manages the changes of tone seamlessly and encourages a quick delivery and pace.
This reminds us that these men may be physically slowing down but their minds are as quick and curious as when they first paid their union subs all those years ago.
George, played by Terry Jermyn, is the peacemaker and is charmingly dotty as he struggles to keep upright after receiving a blow to the head. And Richard Ward gives a delightful performance as the teasing Tom who observes everything with a wry smile while encouraging the others to sort themselves out.
They provide the comic counterpoint and commentary and balance in this beautifully crafted play.
There is a poignant sense of unfinished business and frustrated political ideals. “Why haven’t we got there?” Barney asks. “Why haven’t we achieved our dream?”
However, as they dissolve the union branch and one by one leave the stage we hear the clarion call to the next generation, to the 'comrades in arms' who will carry on the fight.
We are left with the memory of their friendship. Of a group of old comrades, who meet to eat sandwiches, drink tea and make the world a better place.
The Tailors' Last Stand is running at the Barons Court Theatre, The Curtains Up Pub, 28a Comeragh Road, until Sunday, March 10.
Box Office: 020 8932 4747